Saturday, March 18, 2017

Chocolate Sour Cream Bundt Cake with Cream Cheese Layer

I made this for my son Alexander's birthday cake and we really liked it. I took the Chocolate Sour Cream Bundt Cake recipe that I've made many times and added something special, a creamy layer. It made a beautiful, soft, moist, black and white beauty.

I made the whole recipe for the Bundt cake, but it makes a LOT of cake. When I make it the original way with no cream cheese layer, it makes so much that I put some of the batter in ramekins and there's still plenty for the Bundt cake. When I added this cream cheese layer, I put some of the batter (no cream cheese layer) in 1 regular loaf pan and 1 small loaf pan and then used the rest of the batter for this cake. So it would probably be fine to cut the ingredients in half and you'd have plenty of chocolate cake, but I haven't tried that yet so I can't say for sure.   

Chocolate Sour Cream Bundt Cake with Cream Cheese Layer
1 c. cocoa powder, sifted, plus more for dusting pan
7 1/2 oz. semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 c. boiling water
2 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1 1/2 t. baking soda
1 1/4 t. kosher salt
1 1/4 c. (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 1/2 c. firmly packed light brown sugar
5 eggs, lightly beaten
4 t. vanilla extract
1 1/2 c. sour cream
1 1/2 c. semisweet chocolate chips
Cream Cheese Layer:
1 (8-oz.) pkg. cream cheese
1 T. butter
1T. cornstarch
1 (14-oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
1 egg
1 t. almond extract or vanilla extract

6 oz. semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
2 T. unsalted butter
1/2 c. heavy cream

Have all cake and cream cheese layer ingredients at room temperature.

Preheat an oven to 325°. Grease the Bundt cake pan and dust with cocoa powder; tap out the excess.

To make the cake, in a bowl, combine the 1 cup cocoa powder and the chocolate. Add the boiling water and whisk until the chocolate melts and the mixture is smooth and blended. Set aside.

Over a sheet of parchment, sift together the flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the flat beater, beat the butter on medium speed until smooth and creamy, 30 to 45 seconds. Reduce the speed to low, add the brown sugar and beat until blended. Increase the speed to medium and continue beating until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 5 minutes, stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the eggs a little at a time, beating until incorporated before adding more and stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Beat in the vanilla until incorporated, about 1 minute.
Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the sour cream and beginning and ending with the flour, beating just until blended and no lumps of flour remain. Slowly pour in the chocolate-cocoa mixture and beat until no white streaks are visible, stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in the chocolate chips.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan, leaving 2 inches from the top of the cake batter to the op of the pan. Spread the batter so the sides are about 1 inch higher than the center. (Pour remaining batter in greased loaf pan or ramekins and bake until top is well baked and tester comes out clean. Time for these will depend on size of pan.)
Make cream cheese layer by beating cream cheese, butter and until fluffy. Slowly mix in sweetened condensed milk, egg and extract until smooth. Pour mixture over cake batter in Bundt pan. (It will sink to the bottom of the cake so when it's done, they layer will be at the top of the cake.)

Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out with only a few moist crumbs attached to it, 60 to 65 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let the cake cool upright in the pan for 15 minutes. Invert the pan onto the rack and lift off the pan. Let the cake cool completely, at least 1 hour.

Meanwhile make the ganache: In a heatproof bowl, combine the chocolate and butter. In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the cream just to a boil. Immediately pour the cream over the chocolate and butter. Whisk until the melt and the mixture is smooth.

Pour the ganache over the top of the cake, allowing the ganache, to drip down the sides. Let the cake stand until the ganache is set, at least 15 minutes.  

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Mini Avocado and Hummus Quesadillas

These little quesadillas from Cookin' Canuck make a great snack, side dish or even dinner. This is what Elisa and I had for dinner tonight. They are easy to throw together and taste super good! I used street taco tortillas (which are small) instead of cutting the regular-sized tortillas. They're pretty cute and make this recipe even easier, although they aren't whole wheat. 

Mini Avocado and Hummus Quesadillas
4 whole wheat tortillas
¼ c. hummus
¼ t. ground cumin
1 T. minced cilantro
½ California avocado, cut into 12 slices
1 ½ oz. crumbled queso fresco

Using a 2½-inch circle cookie cutter (or a glass with a 3½-inch circumference and a small knife), cut 3 circles from each tortilla.
In a small bowl, stir together the hummus, cumin and cilantro.

Spread 1 teaspoon of the hummus mixture on each tortilla circle. Divide the avocado slices and queso fresco evenly between the quesadillas, arranging them on one half of the tortilla circles.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Place several quesadillas in the pan and cook until the tortillas are golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes per side.

Repeat with the remaining quesadillas. Serve.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Brownie Butter Cake

This moist cake from Rasa Malaysia was a big hit at my house. It's pretty quick to put together, even with the two layers. Since Bee said on her blog that she made it using the metric measurements and only converted the amounts online, I used the metric measurements also, using a kitchen scale.

Brownie Butter Cake

140 g (5 oz.) dark chocolate (broken into pieces)
50 g (¼ c.) unsalted butter
50 g (¼ c.) brown sugar
1 egg
35 g (¼ c.) flour
Butter cake:
120 g (½ c.) unsalted butter
100 g (½ c.) sugar
2 eggs
120 g (1 c.) flour
2 g (¼ t.) baking powder
50 ml (3 ½ T.) fresh milk
 Line a 4×8-inch loaf pan with aluminum foil and grease foil. Preheat oven to 350°.

To make brownie, melt chocolate and butter over low heat. Remove and leave to cool slightly. Stir in brown sugar until blended.

Add egg, mix well. Fold in flour, mix until well combined. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes. Remove.

To make butter cake, beat butter with sugar until creamy. Add in eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Fold in sifted flour and baking powder, alternately add in fresh milk, mix to form batter.

Spread the butter cake batter over brownie, bake in oven at 320° for 25-30 minutes or until cooked. Insert a cake tester in the middle to check doneness.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Not Just For Sinners

It's been a long time since I've posted much besides my missionary son's letters on my blog. He is now home! I have been wanting to take the time to share my thoughts on my blog again, even if it is just for me to have a place where my thoughts and the words of others that touch me are stored.

This morning as I was getting ready, I randomly chose a BYU devotional to listen to. As I was listening, I felt it was exactly what I needed today. It was Elder David A. Bednar's devotional from 2001 called "In the Strength of the Lord".

Directly after the sentence above, he goes on to say:
"We will become agents who 'act' rather than objects that are 'acted upon' (2 Nephi 2:14)." Elder David A. Bednar

For quite a while now, that idea has been in my mind because of counsel to me from a church leader to "act rather than be acted upon." This talk was another testament that we should not just hope that things get better when we have the power to change something. Elder Bednar gives examples of several people who prayed for strength to change the circumstance instead of just praying for their burden to be removed. We can pray for the enabling power of the atonement to strengthen us to do what we need to do when we cannot do alone. 

That is the part of Elder Bednar's talk that I was thinking about most when I again randomly chose another past BYU devotional. This time it was Sister Dew's talk "You Were Born to Lead, You Were Born for Glory". I have heard both of these talks before and I love SO much about her devotional address, but what I noticed as I was listening was that both of these devotionals stated that the atonement is not just for sinners, but also for daily use by faithful followers of Christ. I must have needed that reminder today.

"Brothers and sisters, do you know what I likely would have prayed for if I had been tied up by my brothers? My prayer would have included a request for something bad to happen to my brothers and ended with the phrase 'wilt thou deliver me from the hands of my brethren' or, in other words, 'Please get me out of this mess, now!' It is especially interesting to me that Nephi did not pray, as I probably would have prayed, to have his circumstances changed. Rather, he prayed for the strength to change his circumstances. And may I suggest that he prayed in this manner precisely because he knew and understood and had experienced the enabling power of the Atonement of the Savior.

"I personally do not believe the bands with which Nephi was bound just magically fell from his hands and wrists. Rather, I suspect that he was blessed with both persistence and personal strength beyond his natural capacity, that he then “in the strength of the Lord” (Mosiah 9:17) worked and twisted and tugged on the cords and ultimately and literally was enabled to break the bands.

"Most of us clearly understand that the Atonement is for sinners. I am not so sure, however, that we know and understand that the Atonement is also for saints—for good men and women who are obedient and worthy and conscientious and who are striving to become better and serve more faithfully."
David A. Bednar

"Until I was in my thirties, I thought the Atonement was basically for sinners—meaning that it allowed us to repent. But then I suffered a heartbreaking personal loss and began to learn that there was so much more to this sublime doctrine.

"My solution initially to my heartbreak was to exercise so much faith that the Lord would have to give me what I wanted—which was a husband. Believe me, if fasting and prayer and temple attendance automatically resulted in a husband, I’d have one.

"Well, the Lord hasn’t even yet given me a husband; but He did heal my heart. And in doing so, He taught me that He not only paid the price for sin but compensated for all of the pain we experience in life. He taught me that because of His Atonement, we have access to His grace, or enabling power—power that frees us from sin; power to be healed emotionally, physically, and spiritually; power to “loose the bands of death” (Alma 7:12); power to turn weakness into strength (see Ether 12:27); and power to receive salvation through faith on His name (see Mosiah 3:19)"
Sheri L. Dew

I am so grateful for how much I have learned about the gospel and especially about the atonement as I have used it in my life to strengthen and lift me. The enabling power has helped me get through times when I thought it was impossible to make it through. I am grateful to know Jesus, not just about Him. I am sure that as long as I live, I will continue to learn more and to learn how to better use the atonement to bless my life and bless the lives of those around me.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Polar Opposites

This is my very last blog post sharing a missionary letter. Alex will be boarding a plane in a few hours and leaving behind the life he's none for the last 2 years. I can't imagine the emotions he's going through, especially since he hasn't talked much abut them. But he did send a pretty long letter this week compared to his recent ones. It'll be strange for me not being a missionary mom anymore. I'm looking forward to seeing him again, and I have no idea what wonderful things await him in his life now.

Most things done by the community of the internet in America starts
off with "First!" Today, and this week, I'll be saying a lot of
"lasts." Thank you to all of those who with patience read all my long
emails of detailed description of what I have been doing every week
for the last two years. I am sure that it wasn't the most
entertaining, but just the fact that you've read it makes me very
Scripture of the week is Mathew 1:24 "Then Joseph being raised from
sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him
his wife." The reason why I chose this scripture for this week, is
because it shows how diligent Joseph was in obedience. He didn't care
about sleep, or food, or anything more than he cared about following
the instructions given to him by God. If we don't hesitate, we will be
blessed with more revelation from God; I don't think that this was
Joseph's first time following a prompting from God, but a righteous
habit formed throughout his life, one decision at a time.

Kanji of the week: ζœ€εΎŒ pronounced "sigh-go" and means last.

District pday. These four "large" pizzas cost us about 100 dollars
total. That's crazy!
We had my last district p-day on Monday, and we all had fun, we were
able to relax, and prepare to work hard the rest of the week. Not much
happened in the evening though.
Tuesday was my last companion exchange of my mission, with Elder
Livermore. We had a good time talking as we went around Hirosaki for
my last time. We were able to meet a less active, and help him feel
the spirit.
Wednesday was my last DTM (district training meeting). We were asked
to consecrate ourselves again unto the Lord that we may be worthy of
miracles and helping others come to Christ. With that we were asked to
join together in fast, the previous day from lunch until lunch of the
next day (Wednesday). We then had a DTM where we all bore our
testimonies, and then offered a dedicatory prayer to reconsecrate
ourselves. It was a good experience, and a spiritual one. After that
we all went to a famous restaurant called Osaka Osho and broke our
fast together. That day we also had my last family home evening with a
member, and my last English class.
Thursday was a regular day, and we went around and housed with little
fruits. In the evening, we went and had dinner with the branch
president and his wife for my "goodbye party." It was just us four,
but it the food was great (very Japanese dishes), and we had a
spiritual time together as we shared a spiritual message.
My last sashimi before coming home. I also ate sushi at the branch
president home, but didn't take any pictures, sorry!

Friday was pretty uneventful, but for the sake of mentioning it, we
had my last weekly planning session, and then housed for a while.
Saturday we went up to Aomori for my last time (I wasn't even trying
to type that this time). We had my last stake conference in Japan, and
it was really, really good. We had the mission president and Elder
Hayashi, an Area Seventy, come.
Sunday we got a ride down to Misawa, a place I hadn't been to in a
year, from a member in Aomori. He was great, and I enjoyed talking
with him. The meeting itself was great, but I don't have much I want
to share from it. Before the meeting, as is natural from being in a
stake (district) that you've served in before, I got to see lots of
members from Hachinohe. I had lots of good conversations with the
members, but there was one in particular I want to talk about.
One year ago, I was in Hachinohe. That's not news. But while I was
there, I had only 1 investigator in the 3 transfers (4 months) I was
there. And even then it was an investigator that was found by other
missionaries, that I became the missionary to teach because the other
companionship left the area, and me and my new companion "inherited"
him. Don't get me wrong, I love this man with every fiber of my being,
but that is the background.
That Sunday, as I was talking with my companion, I felt an arm wrap
around my shoulder and heard "long time no see!" (In english) I turned
to look at who it was, and it was that investigator. We hugged, smiled
and laughed together. He told me that he had gotten baptized after I
had left, and has been strong ever since. As we caught up with each
other, I remembered a scripture. "And if it so be that you should
labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring,
save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in
the kingdom of my Father!" (Doc and Cov 18:15) I was not the one to
baptize him, I was not even that great of a missionary then (not that
I'm much better now), but how much joy I felt to talk with him, share
experiences, and just know that if nothing else happens from my
mission, I did my part in helping one soul come unto Christ!
A picture of two missionaries with the recent convert I was talking
about. I couldn't get in the picture fast enough, but I
was in the background!

Thanks for putting up with my lasts. I hope that you all know that I
love you, and more importantly, that I love you because I know how
much God loves you.
Have a good week.